KARACHI: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday informed the Sindh High Court that it had notified delimitation committees for holding local government elections in Sindh, but the provincial government had yet to provide requisite data.
It submitted that the Sindh government informed the ECP that it had reservations on the official result of the 2017 census and it had filed an appeal before the federal government.
The ECP said the Sindh government was of the view that the LG elections could not be held in the province till the decision of the federal government on its appeal.
However, the ECP further submitted that it had reserved its judgement relating to the delay in the LG elections in Sindh after hearing the provincial government, which linked the polls with a fresh census.
Counsel for provincial govt seeks time, court adjourns hearing till Oct 12
A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Sheikh took up for hearing a set of petitions regarding holding LG elections in Sindh and asked the ECP what steps it had taken to conduct the polls in the province.
ECP law officer Abdullah Hanjrah submitted that the ECP was ready to hold the elections but instead of providing the requisite data the Sindh government claimed to have filed an appeal against the final result of the census.
He further submitted that the tenure of the elected LG governments in Sindh ended in August 2020 and after the publication of the final result of the census in May, the ECP notified delimitation committees and authorities and a number of meetings were held with representative of the Sindh government in which the ECP sought required data, but they did not provide maps, number of councils, etc, to carry out delimitation.
Thereafter, the ECP had issued notices to the provincial government and several meetings were held and on Aug 23, the Sindh government representatives submitted before the ECP that they wanted to make amendments in the LG law for which six months were required.
The Sindh government had also filed an appeal against the official results of the census, he maintained.
The law officer further submitted that the ECP held a hearing on Sept 6 in which the chief secretary was also present along with other representatives of the Sindh government. The ECP reserved the judgement after hearing arguments of the provincial government.
The bench adjourned the hearing till Oct 12 after an additional advocate general-Sindh requested for time to go through the letter of the ECP and to seek instructions from the provincial government.
Initially, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan had approached the SHC challenging the constitution of committees for delimitation of the local government jurisdiction in the province stating that according to the Elections Act, 2017, the exercise of delimitation could not be carried out unless the final results of the population census were officially published.
Later, some other petitions were also filed in which the petitioners took the plea that the tenure of the elected LG governments ended on Aug 30, 2020, but the ECP had failed to fulfil its obligation to conduct fresh elections within 120 days.
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2021